Dr. Franklin T. Fowler, missionary physician, dies at 100

By Ann Lovell

RICHMOND, Virginia—Franklin Thomas Fowler, M.D., died Sept. 10, 2017, at age 100 at Lakewood, a continuing care retirement community in Richmond’s West End. Dr. Fowler grew up in Argentina as the child of missionary parents. After college at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee, Dr. Fowler went on to Vanderbilt Medical School in Nashville where, thanks to the start of World War II, he and his class earned their medical degrees a few months earlier than planned. In 1947, Fowler and his wife, Dorcas, were appointed to Paraguay as medical missionaries with the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board (FMB, now International Mission Board). Their task was to build a hospital. In an interview shortly before his 100th birthday in March, Dr. Fowler credited the Baptist Medical Center in Asunción, Paraguay, as one of his greatest accomplishments.

The Fowlers left Paraguay in 1956 to accept an assignment in Mexico, and in 1960, the family moved to Richmond where Dr. Fowler served as the FMB’s first medical consultant. During his tenure in FMB’s home office, Dr. Fowler focused on missionary health and started the Baptist Medical/Dental Fellowship, which remains active today.

The Fowlers moved to Lakewood in 1987, where they quickly became active in the community. They started a worship service for healthcare residents, and Dr. Fowler continued to write and paint, chronicling his life in “From There to Here: The Story of a Missionary Child,” which was published in July. Dorcas, his wife of 70 years, died June 26 at the age of 96.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, Oct. 14 at 11 a.m. at River Road Church, Richmond, where Dr. and Mrs. Fowler’s ashes will be entombed.  Arrangements by Woody Funeral Home, Parham Chapel. Condolences may be offered at woodyfuneralhomeparham.com


Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia, formerly Virginia Baptist Homes. For more information, email alovell@lifespireliving.org or call (804) 521-9192.

LifeSpire of Virginia operates four continuing care retirement communities in Virginia: The Chesapeake in Newport News, The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville and Lakewood in Richmond.